Newfoundland is a well-kept secret when it comes to winter travel and with such a variety of landscapes, there is something for everyone and all skill levels. From backcountry skiing to X-country skiing to snowmobiling on the thousands of kilometres of trails, there is something for everyone here on the Island.
How Cold Is Newfoundland In Winter
Visitors often assume that because of its northern latitude the island of Newfoundland is very cold but, that is simply not true. Winters span between 5C to about -20C depending on the wind direction and where you are on the island. The Atlantic Ocean acts as a moderator of temperature helping keep the winters warmer and summers cooler.
Here’s a brief rundown of the 3 main regions;
This region spans from Port aux Basques to St.Anthony and includes the Long Range Mountains.
Western Newfoundland is the region that receives the most snow.
It maintains a winter temperature of 0C to -15C on average.
Snow begins in December and keeps coming until March.
Snowfall is usually about 600cms or 18 feet.
This region is from Baie Vert to Clarenville and Twillingate to Harbour Breton.
This is interior Newfoundland and usually the coldest region.
Temperatures range from 0C to -20C depending on the direction of the wind.
Snow begins in mid-October and falls until early May
Snowfall is about 450cms or 12-15 feet.
This region is the warmest on the island meaning that it rains as much or more than it snows.
Temperatures hover between +5C and -5C.
The average annual snowfall is 320cms or 9 feet.
The City's coastal location also means that wind and fog are common.
For more detailed information, we recommend you read Winter Weather in Newfoundland.
Best Winter Activities by Region
Try Wild Ice Skating
Go Ice Fishing
See the Pack Ice
Snowmobile at the Mid Winter Bivver
Try Wild Ice Skating
Ski or Snowboard at White Hills
Go X Country Skiing
Try Ice Fishing
Hike a Section of the East Coast Trail
Snowshoe in Bowring Park
Go Tobogganing in Pippy Park
Fun Winter Things to Do in Western Newfoundland
There are so many things to do in Western Newfoundland in the winter it's hard to pick one we love the most. In our opinion, this part of the island is the best place to be on the Island, but we may be a little biased.
This list of things to do in Western Newfoundland is fairly comprehensive (we've lived here for 30 years!) but if you know of any other great activities to do, feel free to let us know.
If you are looking for a great place to ski or snowboard, look no further than Marble Mountain. With 19 runs and 3 chairlifts, this is the biggest ski hill in Newfoundland & Labrador and the tallest in Atlantic Canada at 519 metres. It has a variety of trails from beginner to expert and some great snow! If you are looking to do some of the best skiing east of the Rockies you should check out Marble Mountain.
Cross Country Skiing
Western Newfoundland has many great places to XC ski. These 3 are an easy 1 hour or less from Upper Humber Settlement;
Blow Me Down Ski Club - This is a great place for beginners or those who want to enjoy some of the most scenic views of Western Newfoundland. With 42km of trails, there are a variety of options: track set for classic skiers, groomed for skate skiers, fat bikers and snowshoers.
Pasadena Ski & Nature Park -
Gros Morne National Park maintains 5 cross-country skiing areas; Visitor Centre trails, Stuckless Pond/Wigwam Pond, Shallow Bay, Trout River trails, and Bakers Brook trails are all groomed.
For a full list of Newfoundland XC ski clubs, visit crosscountrynl.com
A fat bike has oversized tires that allow you to ride on snow or sand. This is a great activity if you want to explore some of the trails and get a great workout at the same time.
There are a lot of wonderful places to fat bike in Corner Brook and surrounding areas from the Blow Me Down Ski Trails, snowmobile trails or one of the 100s of logging roads scattered throughout the island.
There are a number of great places to snowmobile all over Newfoundland, but the west coast has all the most popular spots: The Gorge, North Arm Hills, Louis Hills and Blow Me, Downs. Click here to see the Snowmobile Federation map.
Whether you are a novice or a veteran rider, there is terrain that will keep you entertained. For beginners, you can sled the trail between Corner Brook and Pasadena or get a snowmobile tour from Rugged Edge.
If you're looking for an adventure and aren't daunted by a bit of a challenge, the Blow Me Downs is perfect for you. Its stunning view and the number of people who are on the trail make it a great warm-up if you plan to explore other areas of the island.
Once you are comfortable with getting around the Blow Me Downs, there are plenty of other places to explore like;
Snowmobile to Western Brook Pond
This is a great ride for a more experienced sledder and allows you to see the iconic Western Brook Pond fjord locally called The Gorge. Touring along the subarctic tundra of Newfoundlands Long Range Mountains to the back of Western Brook Pond is an epic day. This experience is best done guided either through an outfitter or with a local guide who knows the conditions, route and terrain.
This backcountry route usually takes 8-10 hours in good trail conditions and optimal visibility. Riding in various kinds of terrain from glades to wide open flat mountain tops. With an ending looking out into the Fjord.
This is a winter Newfoundland must-do and Cormack is the ideal place to start and end. Book our Entire Farmhouse for your group and leave right from the farm!
The Lewis Hills are the tallest mountains in Newfoundland and have great terrain for people who want to get playful on the snowmobile. The approach consists of (x) KM of groomed trails and low-pitch glades that transition into steep hill climbs and narrow descents.
It will test both your skill and your confidence. The Lewis Hills is locally known for great high marking, shoot climbs, and cliff drops which we leave for the local pros.
North Arm Hills
Much like the Louis Hills, the North Arm Hills are very remote and receive lots of snow. It is a bit less travelled but provides for amazing sledding and sightseeing with herds of caribou known to frequent the area. With views overlooking the Bay of Islands and a great ride in on the logging road. The North Arm Hills is an amazing spot to spend a day out on the trails.
If you are looking for more trails check out this map of snowmobile trails in Western Newfoundland.
Wild Ice Skating
Have you ever gone wild skating before? It's an amazing experience! Newfoundland has many ponds and big lakes making it a great place for wild skating. Ponds along windy coastal areas are ideal as the ice is blown free of snow and is usually pretty flat.
The most epic skating we think Newfoundland has to offer is skating on the shores of Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne National Park. This pond usually freezes well in the winter and because of the wind, it's like glass making it amazing to skate on. This pond is an old fjord so the views are stunning.
Wild ice skating can be dangerous, so if you're considering doing it make sure you understand how to assess the ice's thickness, how to self-rescue, and how you will treat hypothermia. Here is a great starter post by the Canadian Red Cross about how to ensure you are safe while skating. We recommend skating close to shore, with a ski pole or ice axe and personally, we'd even wear a PFD!
Ice fishing is a popular winter activity in Newfoundland. The province has many lakes and ponds that freeze over in the winter, providing a perfect opportunity to catch some fish. Before getting out on the ice don't forget to ensure that ice fishing is open for the season. To read rules and regulations around fishing in the province check out their yearly Agler's Guide.
Ice fishing can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it's important to take precautions to stay safe. Make sure you dress warmly and wear appropriate footwear. It's also a good idea to let someone know where you'll be fishing and when you plan to return.
There are a number of other things to know about ice fishing and if you are interested to learn more click here. If you already know how to ice fish safely then below is a list of some great places to go.
Old man's pond
Bonne bay pond
Portland creek pond
Snowshoeing is a great way to explore Newfoundland in the winter. It's a fun and easy activity that anyone can enjoy.
There are 100's of different places to go snowshoeing in Newfoundland, from easy trails suitable for beginners to more challenging routes for experienced outdoors people. Some popular places to go snowshoe are Man in the Mountain Trail, Humber River Trail, or the Corner Brook Stream Trails, but if you would like to know all of the amazing trails you can snowshoe on the island check out Hikes of Newfoundland.
Backcountry skiing involves skiing or snowboarding in areas that are not accessible from the ski resort. You must have avalanche knowledge and skills to participate in this activity, as well as the proper equipment.
Those who love backcountry skiing say there's nothing else like it. The sense of freedom and adventure is unbeatable, and the views are stunning. If you're interested in trying out this exciting sport, be sure to do your research first and take precautions to stay safe.
Here is a list of some of the best Backcountry skiing spots on the Island.
Southeast Hills (Gros Morne)
Burges Gulch (Gros Morne)
Tablelands - Trout River Bowl (Gros Morne)
Blow Me Downs (park and skin or snowmobile)
South West Gulch Cabin (Gros Morne)
This one is pretty unique to Corner Brook and is a great activity to do during the winter. The Corner Brook caves located up near Massey Drive just off of the Corner Brook Stream Trail is a pretty deep cave network that stays pretty much the same temperature all year round. Making it a great activity to do regardless of what time of year it is.
You can do a cave tour with Cycle Solutions or explore a little on your own. You must bring a headlamp and a helmet then explore VERY slowly. Also, be careful about the frozen water at the entrance of the cave slipping there can be very painful. There is no cell service inside the caves.
Things to Do in Winter in Central Newfoundland
See the Pack Ice
Pack Ice is ice sheets that form and typically come in and out with the tide. During the course of the winter, these ice sheets collect in areas and fill in bays and shorelines. This is an amazing sight to see as some areas get filled with pack ice almost as far as the eye can see.
Here are a couple of great locations to see Pack Ice;
Be careful if you go anywhere near the shoreline. This ice is very unstable and you might actually be on the ocean.
Snowshoeing is the winter version of hiking and a great way to explore the frozen coastline and inland trails. The Hikes of Newfoundland book includes all the trails for the central region and most are great for snowshoeing. Do pay extra attention as the trails may not be very well marked and there is no dirt path to follow in the winter.
There are a number of logging roads and trails in Central Newfoundland that make for excellent snowmobiling. The routes wind their way through forests and over hills, providing riders with plenty of excitement and stunning views. Here is a link to the map of trails in the area.
Participating in the Mid Winter Bivver to experience local trails via snowmobile and savouring the local culinary delights is a must-do.
Wild Ice Skating and Ice Fishing
Just like Western Newfoundland, central has lots of wild ice skating and ice fishing. With so many ponds scattered throughout Central Newfoundland, all you need is an auger or a pair of skates and you will be set.
Ski or Snowboard at White Hills
White Hills is Central Newfoundland's only ski hill. Although it is not very high, it is a great hill to spend a day. With a variety of trails ranging in difficulty and a terrain park, White Hills is an excellent winter activity for this part of the island. Read how White Hills lives up to its name.
X Country Skiing
Any logging road or skidoo trail
Eastern Newfoundland’s Best Winter Activities
Hike the East Coast Trail
Weaving along the Atlantic Ocean from Topsail in the north, through St. Johns and south to Cappahayden, the East Coat Trail is a great place to explore in the winter. Using snowshoes or microspikes ensures you always have traction and can explore the trails safely. Winter brings a new look to the eastern shores - frozen waterfalls, sparkling frost and snowy pathways. It also brings increased challenges such as unmaintained trails, slippery conditions and storms so it’s important to go out prepared.
Some popular winter routes include;
The Spout Path (a wave-driven geyser)
50-metre suspension bridge at La Manche (abandoned settlement)
Cape Spear Path to the National Historic Site
Frozen Waterfalls on Stiles Cove Path
Try Snowshoeing at Bowring park
The Park operates a winter activity centre on Saturdays and Sundays with snowshoe rentals available. With about 200 acres, this park has numerous trails ranging from easy to difficult.
Go Tobbagging at Pippy Park
Located in the heart of St. John’s, Pippy Park offers Nordic and skate skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing against the backdrop of frozen ponds and snowy pines. The Pippy Park Winter Activity Centre offers both ski and snowshoe rentals.